By Art Gillis
One of the first banking applications to find its way onto a PC in the mid-seventies was Asset/Liability Management. And it was a perfect marriage because ALM was about modeling. "Try this and see what you get." In the days of manual grunt work, "try this" meant only one, two or three what-ifs because it required a lot of tedious work, and bankers were too busy pushing paper from one station to another.
When I asked bankers what they liked about the PC-based solutions, they all answered - "power." They could do hundreds of what-ifs by changing a variable, then pressing the execute key and examining the results to select the best option. Some of them enjoyed the gaming aspect of this new tool. They could roll the dice without risking the bank. And for once, they could tell an "employee" to do something and get instant completion without a gripe or a lot of attitude. Out of hundreds of what-if solutions, a banker could opt for the best one even if it just had the benefit of a few basis points. In a large bank, a few basis points means millions.
In the world of core solutions, bankers can choose from 76 vendor-supplied possibilities. But they can't afford to examine all 76, and that's not a problem. Getting to 12 sensible choices is relatively easy. Getting to one best fit is very difficult unless an evaluator uses 36 tools. My 36 tools are computer-based, but they need a facilitator wearing an expensive suit, aka consultant. The 36 tools always find the most-right solution, even if the second choice is 95% right. Just ask the banks that used them. Those banks are still using the system recommended by the tools, and the comfort of never having to do another conversion. I believe that signifies happiness. A nice byproduct of the process is the consultant is not worn out and still going strong, thanks to the elimination of pencils, erasers, ruled pads and calculators.